The Just Dance franchise has seen some success on the Nintendo Wii and recently the series arrived on the Xbox 360 Kinect with Just Dance 3. The Kinect has seen quite a few dance games since it’s launch a little over a year ago and gamers now have more of a selection of dance games at their disposal. Yet none of those dance games have been geared towards the younger gamers aged 3-7 years or so. Some would argue younger kids can play games like Dance Central and Just Dance 3 for the Kinect; however, it is also certainly understandable why many parents would not want their kids dancing to songs with themes of drunken debauchery and one night stands. Yes, I am looking at you Keisha and Lady Gaga. Anyhow, much to the relief of many parents out there, Ubisoft has an answer for you with Just Dance Kids 2 for the Kinect.
For those of you who have no idea how Just Dance Kids 2 works, it is essentially a dance rhythm game that plays out in similar fashion to Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution games. The main difference is Just Dance Kids 2 requires you to use your entire body as opposed to merely frantic foot stepping. Just Dance Kids 2 utilizes the Xbox 360 Kinect motion peripheral to read your full body as you follow the on-screen dancers. Your goal is to mimic the moves of the dancers on the screen. Some of the moves can involve a simple side step or arm wave while others can involve much more complex moves involving upper and lower body motions. The flow of your movements is captured by the Xbox 360 Kinect sensor and compared with those of the on-screen dancers to precisely evaluate your performance. The amount of energy is also detected and it will impact your score. That is Just Dance Kids 2 in a nutshell, and at its core it is a highly enjoyable game for kids. That being said, it does lack some depth and is not as deep as the recently released Dance Central 2 game; however, considering its target audience and the list of included songs, Just Dance Kids 2 will please many parents and kids alike.
In terms of the negatives, Just Dance Kids 2 does not feature a single player progression mode as it is all about jumping into a song, alone or with a friend, and dancing away. The lack of a single player story progression mode was a bit of let down as this is something music/rhythm fans have become accustomed to. It is certainly not a deal-breaker by any means, but I felt this game was more like a SingStar game as opposed to any other type of music/rhythm-based game. Granted a single player progression forces kids to trudge through songs they do not particularly care for; however, having songs broken down into tiers and rewarding players with some unlockables for completing certain songs or stages could have given the game much more replay value. That said, my daughter was quite happy she did not have to dance away to some of the songs from The Wiggles or Itsy Bitsy Spider.
In terms of any other negatives, online functionality is quite limited. There is no online ability to dance with or against an online friend or stranger from another city. This was disappointment but also understandable as parents of younger kids should absolutely be keeping tabs of their kids and their online access.
Just Dance Kids 2 features a scoring system much like other dance rhythm games. For every movement, the system evaluates your performance in terms of rhythm and quality of execution and a Score Ball indicates how accurate you are. When the circle displays an ‘X’, you know you have more work to do. When the circle says ‘perfect’ you are nailing the move. At the end every song, you are awarded stars. This system is very much like Guitar Hero. Stars indicate your overall performance during the course of the song. The gauge above your name displays how many stars you have earned.
Once my daughter and I jumped into a song and started wiggling away, I was amazed at how responsive the game was to our body motions. Sure, every so often I would feel like I nailed a particular move only for the game to not recognize it, but these instances were not all that common and did not take much away from the experience.
In a dance rhythm based game the sound is arguably the most important aspect. Fortunately, for the most part, Just Dance Kids 2 delivers here. There are songs for younger kids around the ages of 3 to kids all the way up to about 7-9-years old. My daughter is 9, so many of the songs did not interest her; however, some did. For those of you who are curious as to the songs you get out of the box, here is Just Dance Kids 2’s set list:
Songs for Older Kids!
- Burnin’ up
- Dumb Love
- Feeling Good
- On Our Way
- I’m Gonna Catch You
- Just The Way You Are
- Love Me
- Whip My Hair
- Song 2
- Start All Over
Songs from kids’ favorite movies and TV shows
- Accidentally in Love
- Despicable Me
- Hold Still – Yo Gabba Gabba
- I Am A Gummy Bear (The Gummy Bear Song)
- Jump Up!
- The Robot Song – Yo Gabba Gabba
- Follow The Leader – The Wiggles
- The Shimmie Shake! – The Wiggles
- The Lion Sleeps Tonight
- Something That I Want
Songs for Younger Kids
- Party Goes Down
- Itsy Bitsy Spider
- Five Little Monkeys
- Mah Nà Mah Nà
- Girls Can Too
- Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
- Summer School
- Hand in Hand
Classic Kid favorites!
- Barbara Ann
- Crocodile Rock
- Jingle Bells
- Shake Your Groove Thing
- Hand in Hand
As you can see, it is a nice mix of songs for older and younger kids alike. All the songs get you moving and all are choreographed differently. Also, the amount of songs out of the box is not too shabby. While many could argue that the approximately 40 songs are too little when you consider previous music/rhythm based games come with over 80 tracks, yet the fact remains Just Dance Kids 2 is on par with other dance games.
Visually, Just Dance Kids 2 is not a bad looking game, but it certainly isn’t a great looking one either. The game has a unique artistic style but it certainly comes across as more of a Wii port than a true Xbox 360 game. Although it does look like a Wii port, Just Dance Kids 2 has a lot going for it. The game is vibrant, colourful, and the real life kid dancers’ look great. Everything in the game is virtual except the dancers, which gives Just Dance Kids 2 a distinct look. In keeping with the look and feel of previous Just Dance games, Just Dance Kids 2 stays true to the franchise. I was impressed with how smooth all the dancers moved. Being able to follow along with the on-screen characters is critical in a dance game. Every subtle arm and leg movement in Just Dance Kids 2 was easy to pick up and follow. The overall presentation and gameplay design is on par with the franchise, but it certainly won’t knock your socks off.
Just Dance Kids 2 follows the simple yet successful formula that other dance rhythm based games follow. It is all about allowing your kids to jump into a song and dance without delay. Visually it is nothing special, and is a game that is light on features, yet if you think the songs will appeal to your kids and you are looking at picking up a Kinect dance game for your younger son or daughter then Just Dance Kids 2 may be perfect for you this holiday season.